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NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.

Topic: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies

1) Providing relief to people in the Indian city now lies beyond the scope of conventional solutions and conventional governance. In the light of pressing problems being faced by metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkatta which have caught global attention, critically analyse. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Population growth and rapid urbanization are combining to create huge challenges for Indian cities. According to McKinsey, the country’s cities are expected to grow from 340 million people in 2008 to a whopping 590 million in 2030. Nearly 50% of people will reside in Indian cities by 2050.

Conditions of Indian cities :-

  • Delhi is suffering from worst air pollution problem. As temperatures drop and crop stubble is burnt in neighbouring Punjab and firecrackers are lit — despite bans — toxic particulate matter rises to alarming levels. 
  • In Bengaluru, traffic comes to a virtual halt during peak hours. The city has almost 70 lakh motorized vehicles — a number that has grown by 6,000 per cent from the 1970s. As a result, the average speed of vehicles in the city has dropped radically.
  • Mumbai experience recurrent urban floods. People are stranded on embankments, swallowed up by open manholes, electrocuted by low-hanging wires, injured under collapsed buildings, or plain incapacitated in their daily routines between home and office.
  • Kolkata’s affliction is not new and stems from a lack of civic amenities. With rationing, power cuts and blackouts, India’s oldest and once-most sophisticated modern city is now it’s most un-modern and antiquated.

However the increasing new challenges in Indian cities conveys that providing relief is beyond conventional solution and governance :-

  • As both of which have denied residents a better quality of life.
  • Odd and even-numbered cars, a ban on diesel, planting trees, reviving mangroves, establishing flood break-heads, rationing utilities and reviving public transport are minor and ad- hoc solutions to problems that are now beyond environmental and bureaucratic control.
  • Conventional solutions are not being able to cope up with the rising challenges and their dynamicity of occurrence. Further phenomenon like climate change, extreme events are making them more complex to be addressed by conventional ways.

Hence there is a need to explore new methods and  out of the box ideas in order to deal with them :-

  • Bengaluru can think if it can be benefited from the graded transition from fossil-fuel powered cars to electric cars over the next decade or from the reduction and eventual eradication of cars altogether or private pod transport is an answer to traffic problems etc.
  • Mumbai should think of cleaning up its storm drainage system before the monsoon or upgrading it as is normally done prior to the rainy season or seriously examining the possibility of creating large catchment areas throughout the city.
  • Delhi should encourage carpooling in winter and levy fines on burning coal and provide government subsidies to private air purifiers, reduce construction and create biomass parks with a sizeable proportion of trees per person in every neighbourhood like done in many south American countries.

In the words of Woody Allen “More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to utter despair and hopelessness, the other to total extinction”. This is aptly true to Indian urban scenarios today hence concrete steps are need to be taken.

Topic:  Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora. 

2) Given how they are juxtaposed geographically and culturally, the two countries – India and Bangladesh, have failed to realise full potential of their mutual relationship. Comment. (250 Words)

The Indian Express

Introduction :- Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbours. Relations have been friendly, although sometimes there are border disputes. India was the first country to recognize Bangladesh as a separate and independent state and established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971. India’s links with Bangladesh are civilizational, cultural, social and economic.

Presently they are common members of SAARCBIMSTECIORA and the Commonwealth. In particular, Bangladesh and the east Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura are Bengali-speaking

India and Bangladesh’s geographical locations complement each other and present an opportunity for both to further develop their connectivity links and economies.

Bangladesh’s geopolitical importance for India is due to three factors.

  • Bangladesh’s location is a strategic wedge between mainland India and Northeastern seven states of the Indian Union. Each of these states is land-locked and has shorter route to the sea through Bangladesh.
  • Bangladesh is a natural pillar of “Look East Policy”. A friendly Bangladesh that ensures no anti-India terror or insurgent activities can be carried out from its soil unlike in the past will substantially assist India in handling security problems in some of its restive north-east States.
  • The navigable rivers in India’s Northeast that could connect West Bengal or Orissa ports pass through Bangladesh. The only entry to and exit from the Northeastern region of India is through the Shiliguri Corridor that is close to the Chinese border and within striking distance of Bangladesh. The Shiliguri Corridor is the most sensitive ‘choke point’ for the Indian Union.

However they have failed to realise the full potential of their relationship :-

Major areas of contention has been :

  • A major area of contention has been the construction and operation of the Farakka Barrageby India to increase water supply in the river Hoogly. Bangladesh insists that it does not receive a fair share of the Ganges waters during the drier seasons, and gets flooded during the monsoons when India releases excess waters. See also Sharing of Ganges Waters.
  • There have also been disputes regarding the transfer of Teen Bigha Corridorto Bangladesh.
  • Terrorist activities carried out by outfits based in both countries, like Banga Senaand Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. Recently India and Bangladesh had agreed jointly to fight terrorism.
  • Bangladesh has consistently denied India transit facility to the landlocked North Eastern Regions of India. Although India has a narrow land link to this North eastern region, which is famously known as the Siliguri Corridoror “India’s Chicken Neck”
  • Illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India. The border is porous and migrants are able to cross illegally, though sometimes only in return for financial or other incentives to border security personnel. Bangladeshi officials have denied the existence of Bangladeshis living in India and those illegal migrants found are described as having been trafficked.
  • Continuous border killing of Bangladeshi people by Indian border guards, aiding illegal immigrants, helping in armed dacoity, fake money transfer and illegal drug trades by both Indian and Bangladeshi people are the major problems between Bangladesh and India.

Steps required :-

  • Bangladesh is also home to an aspirational middle class that would like to reap the dividends of a better relationship with New Delhi. Greater trade and connectivity, especially people-to-people relations need to be given due weightage.
  • Apart from venturing into big agendas small issues like building stronger educational links, paying attention is the visa hassle Bangladeshi academics face when attending conferences in India, smoothening the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata, Guwahati-Shillong-Dhaka bus services etc. addressing the issues like Tipaimukh hydro electric project etc is equally important.
  • The role of India’s Northeast in India-Bangladesh ties has long been delinked from security and migrant issues. It is time that Northeast India and Bangladesh built not only strong economic links, but also greater cultural and educational ties. Apart from more border haats, something border states  have already called for, the two sides should explore the possibility of sister city arrangements to promote more people-to-people interactions.

An economically strong, secular and democratic Bangladesh is integral to New Delhi’s interests and also of the subcontinent as a whole. Efforts to strengthen areas of co-operation and minimize that of conflict is needed.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

3) While cooperative mechanisms are crucial to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean Region, it would be prudent on India’s part to do a cost-benefit analysis of building such grand alliances in such uncertain times. Comment. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- The Indian Ocean region comprises all the littoral and island states of that ocean. Some of these nations also share borders with the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

The Indian Ocean matters today. It is a major conduit for international trade, especially energy. Its littoral is vast, densely populated, and comprised of some of the world’s fastest growing regions. The Ocean is also a valuable source of fishing and mineral resources. Today, 95 per cent of India’s trade by volume and 68 per cent of trade by value come via the Indian Ocean

However its governance and security are under constant threat of being undermined, whether by non-state actors such as pirates, smugglers, and terrorists, or by furtive naval competition between states.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj recently marked in Indian Ocean Conference 2017 in Colombo that countries in the Indian Ocean bear the primary responsibility for its peace, stability and prosperity as she underlined the need to keep it safe and secure.

Need of co-operation to maintain stability in Indian Ocean Region :-

  • If the revitalised maritime economy of the Indian Ocean region is to be a force for global economic growth, it is essential that the waters remain peaceful, stable and secure.
  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association has broad oversight, but most initial effort is through the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium. However, there is some scepticism about the symposium’s ability to make a broader contribution to maritime security.
  • There is too much focus much on naval cooperation risks, diverting attention from real requirements. The efforst for co-operation must include coastguards and equivalent national agencies of regional members. These include maritime governance, capacity-building, developing national legislation, development, and poverty alleviation. A regional forum of civil agencies involved in maritime security might help overcome this challenge.

However India must do cost benefit analysis :-

Indian interest in Indian Ocean revolves around three important areas :-

  • It enjoys a privileged location at the crossroads of global trade, connecting the major engines of the international economy in the Northern Atlantic and Asia-Pacific. The energy flows through the Indian Ocean are of particular consequence. Some 36 million barrels per day—equivalent to about 40 per cent of the world’s oil supply and 64 per cent of oil trade—travel through the entryways into and out of the Indian Ocean.
  • The Ocean’s vast drainage basin is important in its own right, home to some two billion people. This creates opportunities, especially given the high rates of economic growth around the Indian Ocean rim, including in India, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, and Eastern and Southern Africa
  • The Indian Ocean is rich in natural resources. Forty per cent of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin. Fishing in the Indian Ocean now accounts for almost 15 per cent of the world’s total and has increased some 13-fold between 1950 and 2010 to 11.5 
  • Finally there is a strong security dimension to India’s engagement with the Indian Ocean, beyond traditional naval considerations. One of the worst terrorist attacks in recent Indian memory—the 2008 assault on Mumbai happened through se lines.

India must take into account following measures as well :-

  • The recent move by Mr. Trump shows the dichotomy in American policy, and India should exercise caution before jumping on to the bandwagon. It must await policy clarity from the U.S. both on Afghanistan and beyond.
  • On the other hand, Russia has asked India to join its International North-South Transport Corridor, arguing that it would be a gateway for India to connect with Central Asia through Chabahar port in Iran and via Afghanistan.

India’s Indian Ocean Region strategy—which in only just taking shape—conforms closely to global priorities for preserving the Ocean as a shared resource: an important channel for trade, a sustainable resource base, and a region secure from heightened military competition, non-state actors, and catastrophic natural disasters. Achieving these objectives will require further investments in capacity, greater transparency and confidence-building measures, and enhanced institutional cooperation.

The very countries which are pushing India into alliances are deeply intertwined with China in terms of trade. Excessive dependence on multilateral frameworks to fulfil national objectives may seem lucrative in the short term but could prove to be a costly mistake in the long term and comprise Indian sovereignty.


Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

4) Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication does nothing in the battle against graft — there are better alternatives. Comment. (150 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :-  In 2009, the government of India launched a new identification program that has gone on to become the largest biometric database in the world. The program, known as Aadhaar, has collected the names, addresses, phone numbers—and perhaps more significantly, fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans—of more than 1 billion people. In the process, Aadhaar has taken on a role in virtually all parts of day-to-day life in India, from schools to hospitals to banks, and has opened up pathways to a kind of large-scale data collection that has never existed before.

Issues of Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication


  • The public distribution system (PDS) and its disbursal of rations to the poor have come under the scanner in Jharkhand after three persons died recently, allegedly owing to lack of food.
  • Santoshi Kumari, an 11-year-old from Simdega district, died. Her mother, Koyli Devi, said the child died of hunger as the family was not getting rations under the State-run PDS for the past several months because of a biometric mismatch.

The ABBA system in PDS outlets is built around a set of “fragile technologies” that need to work simultaneously for successful transaction. These are:

  • Seeding of Aadhaar numbers: An eligible individual can become a beneficiary and access the PDS system only if her Aadhaar number is correctly seeded onto the PDS database and added to the household ration card.
  • Point of Sale (PoS) machines: The entire process at the PDS outlet is dependent on the PoS machine. If it malfunctions, no transaction can be made. The first step in the process requires the dealer to enter the ration card number of the beneficiary’s household onto the PoS machine.
  • Internet connection: Successful working of the PoS machine depends on internet connectivity as verification of the ration card number and the beneficiary’s biometric fingerprint is carried out over the internet.
  • Remote Aadhaar servers: Remote Aadhaar servers verify the ration card number and initiate fingerprint authentication.
  • Fingerprint recognition software: The beneficiary proves her identity by submitting to fingerprint recognition in the PoS machine. Upon verification, the PoS machine indicates that the beneficiary is genuine and that foodgrains can be distributed to her household.


Since the PDS was introduced to overcome chronic hunger and malnutrition, exclusion errors should be of greater concern.


  • Though Aadhaar is technically not an eligibility criterion, ABBA is systematically leading to exclusion at two levels.
  • The lack of an Aadhaar number automatically disqualifies eligible individuals from being listed in the household ration card.
  • Beneficiaries face persistent and pervasive issues related to ABBA due to issues with one or more of the five technological components of the system such as reported fingerprint authentication errors, Aadhaar seeding issues, and poor connectivity. 
  • Several surveys revealed a fact that 10% of households are excluded due to ABBA and two-thirds reported errors with one or more of its five technological components.
  • It raises Privacy issues.
  • It is flexibility (an elderly person asking a neighbour to fetch their grain would count as identity fraud) that is lost when the ABBA is made mandatory.
  • ABBA has minimum role in reducing corruption in the short time.
  • Aadhaar endeavours of government are in violation of several Supreme Court orders that had ruled (even after the passage of the Aadhaar bill in Lok Sabha) that Aadhaar cannot be mandatory to access welfare services.


Alternatives need to be explored like Smart Cards :-


  • Biometrics allows for identification of citizens even when they don’t want to be identified. Smart cards which require pins on the other hand require the citizens’ conscious cooperationduring the identification process.
  • Once smart cards are disposed nobody can use them to identify. Consent is baked into the design of the technology.
  • If the UIDAI adopts smart cards, the centralized database of biometrics can be destroyed just like the UK government did in 2010. This would completely eliminate the risk of foreign government, criminals and terrorists using the breached biometric database to remotely, covertly and non-consensually identify Indians.
  • Smart cards based on open standards allow for decentralized authentication by multiple entities and therefore eliminates the need for a centralized transaction database.


 The results suggest that the ABBA system is neither as efficient nor as dependable as it is made out to be, even in a seemingly best-case environment.

  • The Food and Public Distribution Department has directed officials to adopt a humane approach by giving rations to even those who are not on the list yet.
  • The Department is also trying to provide compensation as per the National Food Security Act to those who have not got PDS supplies.
  • It is essential to deal with issues of duplication, less disruptive methods than Aadhaar such as food coupons, smart cards, and last-mile tracking can be used to produce the same effectiveness with far less administrative burden.


Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

5) Does India need a new institutional architecture to deal with multi-state problems such as air pollution? Discuss. (150 Words)


Introduction :- Air pollution in India is quite a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. A 2013 study on non-smokers has found that Indians have 30% lower lung function compared to Europeans.


Air pollution has been a multi-state problem in India. As In autumn and winter months, large scale crop residue burning in agriculture fields a low cost alternative to mechanical tilling is a major source of smoke, smog and particulate pollution.


Need of a new institutional architecture to deal with such problems :-


  • Hasty and temporary solutions to such sever problem are not in the long term interest of people. Their effectiveness and impacts are very limited and they cant address the root causes hence results into ad hoc measures. There is a need to adopt a new institutional architecture.
  • The state governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana should consider the representative agencies for their respective citizens. They should negotiate on how the cost of changing farming practices will be shared. A first step will be to estimate the amount to be paid for every hectare of farmland that is shifted away from stubble burning.
  • The lack of an institutional structure to deal with such federal negotiations, especially when the three state governments are run by three different political parties need to be addressed. This is where the Union government needs to step in as a coordinating agency. It can also offer to bear half the fiscal costs of any green bargain between the three states.
  • A better solution over the long term is to set up a federal agency like the Environmental Protection Agency in the US, with powers to get states to the bargaining table.
  • The exact contours of such an agency will need to be debated by climate change scientists, economists, environmental activists and political parties. The current institutional vacuum needs to be filled.


The winter smog that chokes millions of people every year needs to be dealt with through a long-term institutional strategy rather than hasty administrative responses each time citizens choke.




Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics

6) It is said that we need global norms to address the rise of machine autonomy in armed conflict. Discuss the issues posed by the rise of autonomous machines and the challenges of regulating their role in conflicts. (250 Words)

The Hindu

Introduction :- Recently United Nations (UN) group of experts in Geneva kicks off the first formal inter-governmental discussion on what machine autonomy means for the laws of armed conflict and the future of international security.

Throughout history, the capacity to wield new technologies from gunpowder to nuclear weapons to long-range missiles has changed how wars are fought, and the strategic balance between attack and defence maintained. However the increased use of machines in warfare posses many issues :-

  • With concept of Artificial intelligence on rise the concepts like killer robots and conscious synths demanding their rightful place in society. The American tech billionaire Elon Musk and over 100 others recently signed a letter warning that the weaponisation of AI-based technologies risks opening a Pandora’s box.
  • Questions as legal liability when autonomous vehicles share the streets with pedestrians, predictive analytics subverting due process, and the algorithmic entrenchment of human biases are also being taken into considerations.
  • The major powers are developing autonomous missiles and drones that will hunt ships, subs, and tanks, and piecing together highly automated battle networks that will confront each other and have the capability of operating without human control. This is leading to arms race and humanity is moving towards destructivity.
  • Unethicality is very much involved in machine use in armed warfare. Autonomous weapons could malfunction, kill innocents, and nobody be held responsible.  


Owing to all above issues their regulation must be done in order to keep check on their misuse, overuse. But there are many challenges in this :-

  • In spite of the fact that laws and regulations for their use are in place they get frequently violated and bended.
  • Self interest of global powers to maintain their dominant position in world through increased production and use of machines in armed conflicts will not allow them to develop comprehensive and egalitarian rules for their regulation.
  • Their increasingly complex developments and multifold advance functions of machines day by day makes it challenging to regulate them completely.


Topic: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world. 

Introduction :- Distributive justice concerns the nature of a socially just allocation of goods in a society. A society in which incidental inequalities in outcome do not arise would be considered a society guided by the principles of distributive justice. The concept includes the available quantities of goods, the process by which goods are to be distributed, and the resulting allocation of the goods to the members of the society.


Five types of distributive norm are defined by Donelson R. Forsyth :-


  • Equity: Members’ outcomes should be based upon their inputs. Therefore, an individual who has invested a large amount of input (e.g. time, money, energy) should receive more from the group than someone who has contributed very little.
  • Equality: Regardless of their inputs, all group members should be given an equal share of the rewards/costs. Equality supports that someone who contributes 20% of the group’s resources should receive as much as someone who contributes 60%.
  • Power: Those with more authority, status, or control over the group should receive more than those in lower level positions.
  • Need: Those in greatest needs should be provided with resources needed to meet those needs. These individuals should be given more resources than those who already possess them, regardless of their input.
  • Responsibility: Group members who have the most should share their resources with those who have less.

Utilitarianism :-

Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility. “Utility” is defined in various ways, usually in terms of the well-being of sentient entities. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as the sum of all pleasure that results from an action, minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action. Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism, utilitarianism considers the interests of all beings equally.

Distributive justice and utilitarian :-

  • Utilitarianism shows interest in distribution of goods only if this has some impact on maximisation of overall happiness.
  • Approximately equal distribution of resources has the best effect. This is so, they believe, because a certain good is of less value to someone who already has a lot of it, than to someone who possesses a very short supply of the good (e.g. one extra dollar means much less to a millionaire than to a beggar).
  • The loss of happiness of the rich is much smaller than the gain of happiness of the poor, if some reasonable amount of goods is taken from the former and given to the latter. Therefore, a redistribution of resources increases general happiness of a society. 
  • However, utilitarians do not advocate strict equality because it would have an adverse influence on the working motivation of the able individuals, and thereby on the overall wealth of the society. The main task is to find a balance between factors that point towards equality and those ones that go against it.

Topic:  Ethical concerns and dilemmas in private institutions

8) You are the manager of a spare parts company A and you have to negotiate a deal with the manager of a large manufacturing company B. The deal is highly competitive and sealing the deal is critical for your company. The deal is being worked out over a dinner. After dinner the manager of manufacturing company B offered to drop you to the hotel in his car. On the way to hotel he happens to hit motorcycle injuring the motorcyclist badly. You know the manager was driving fast and thus lost control. The law enforcement officer comes to investigate the issue and you are the sole eyewitness to it. Knowing the strict laws pertaining to road accidents you are aware that your honest account of the incident would lead to the prosecution of the manager and as a consequence the deal is likely to be jeopardised, which is of immense importance to your company.

What are the dilemmas you face? What will be your response to the situation? (250 Words)

Introduction :-

Dilemmas faced by manager A :-

  • Adhering to rule, law Vs securing company’s gains :- The manager is the only eyewitness to it. If he is abiding by laws he has to give proof against Manager B. This will lead to the prosecution of the manager and as a consequence the deal is likely to be jeopardized.
  • Personal ethics Vs Professional advancement :- If the manager A does not want to give proof in favour of Manager B and is being forced under pressure for Company’s gain this would compromise on his personal ethics.
  • Justice to victim i.e. motorcyclist Vs unethical defence of accused i.e. manager B :- Actions of Manger A will greatly determine who will get benefitted hence the action need to be much more thoughtful.

Response that should be given by manager A :-

  • Giving a dishonest account is not only doing injustice to the victim but also will compromise rules, laws, ethics, morals. Hence giving an honest account of what happened is the most appropriate action. By doing this manager will show courage of conviction.
  • Manager A along with manager B should look out for best treatment of the victim and should take care of all charges. He should convince manager B about taking the responsibility and showing sensitivity towards victim. He must friendly consult him about the consequences of both being honest and following the law and being dishonest and getting free out of incidence.
  • This will help in getting his punishment reduced as it is well understandable that the accident was not intentional. It will also save the reputation of company of Manger B and manager B himself from getting damaged in eyes of law enforcement agency and public as getting free into such seriously injuring accident won’t be accepted generally.
  • Manager should also try to convince the officers that as the accident was not intentional and Manger B is taking care of victim his punishment must be reduced on the basis of humanitarian concerns.
  • The deal which is likely to be jeopardize can be justly saved with all these actions.